Workers like flexible office hours, but find they are most creative in traditional workspaces. Those were some of the findings of the inaugural Staples Advantage Workplace Index survey, released at the end of June.
The report, which drew on the responses of more than 2,600 office workers across the U.S. and Canada, found a correlation between workplace flexibility and the happiness of staff. About half of employees who reported feeling unhappy about their job had no access to any sort of workplace flexibility, such as flex-time or telecommuting. This contrasts with the more than 70 percent of happy staff who reported their workplace offered some kind of flexibility.
Additionally, 38 percent of unhappy employees identified flexibility as a factor that would help increase their job satisfaction.
"Of course, flexible working requires mutual trust -- the boss must trust the employee not to abuse it and the employee must trust management to manage well from a distance," write the report's authors.
But while unconventional scheduling is a key element in worker happiness, the Workplace Index found that employees generally prefer a more traditional office design. A majority of respondents said they felt more innovative and creative in traditional work environments (rather than more open or non-traditional spaces such as lounge areas, outside, or in cafeteria-style areas).
This preference became stronger in older cohorts. While just 51 percent of Generation Y respondents reported a preference for traditional workspaces, 61 percent of Generation X and 71 percent of Boomers said the same thing. A similar dynamic could be seen on the question of whether workers prefer a closed office layout (32 percent of Gen Y, 39 percent of Gen X, and 45 percent of Boomers).
"Plan open work spaces when it makes sense to promote a vibrant, creative environment that naturally encourages collaboration and communication," concluded the report's authors. "Use traditional 'closed' office spaces where it makes sense to promote productive, personalized working spaces."
The complete report can be downloaded here